A treaty in international relations, is defined as a binding formal agreement, contract or other written instrument that establishes obligations between two or more subjects of international law. The usage of treaties in international affairs can be traced all the way back to the beginning of written history. There exist a myriad of conventions and treaties some of which have been cited in this article namely the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the first comprehensive treaty addressing women’s rights, offers a common definition of such discrimination followed by the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) which offers a comprehensive set of guidelines for promoting and safeguarding children’s rights and UDHR, which served as the model for numerous international human rights treaties that are now enforceable by law. Similarly, there have been a wide range of treaties dealing with a vast set of matters such as the NPT which is a historic international treaty whose goals are to advance nuclear disarmament and general and complete disarmament, prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, and promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Then came the Brussels Treaty and the decisions made by political and military leaders in the middle of 1948 that marked a significant shift in British defense strategy. The pact did fulfill one of the key requirements for such an Atlantic system: it made it clear that the West European states were ready to organize themselves and try to stand on their own, even before the promise of American assistance was forthcoming. Lastly, there’s a reference to the Declaration of Legal Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space which sets out some basic and integral guidelines to be considered before taking any decision with regards to spatial arena.
KEYWORDS: International Treaties and Conventions, CEDAW. CRC. UDHR,NPT, Treaty of Brussels, Outer Space Treaty
A treaty in international relations, is defined as a binding formal agreement, contract or other written instrument that establishes obligations between two or more subjects of international law (primarily states and international organizations). Legally, there is no difference between a treaty, a convention or a covenant and all are international legal instruments which, in international law, legally bind those States that choose to accept the obligations contained in them by becoming a party in accordance with the final clauses of these instruments.
The usage of treaties in international affairs can be traced all the way back to the beginning of written history. The oldest ‘international’ agreement known to have existed in Sumerian Mesopotamia in the 24th century BC. Between the cities of Lagash and Umma, a border dispute needs to be resolved. As with all the major civilizations of the Ancient Near East, numerous additional treaties from the third millennium have been discovered in Mesopotamia and Syria. The Roman law of contract provided the foundation for much of what would later become contemporary treaty law, which found its way into international treaty practice and doctrine thanks to the mediating function of the medieval jus commune.
The objective of this article is to analyse the significance of various international conventions and treaties in the context of history, politics, peace and human rights. The element of modernization has also been highlighted with special reference given to rights of every citizen. Various sources including research papers, official domains, news articles etc have been used as a reference to mould the analysis.
- Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination Against Women –
The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the first comprehensive treaty addressing women’s rights, offers a common definition of such discrimination. CEDAW’s main objectives are to end discrimination against women, advance the rule of law, and encourage global respect for human rights. State parties are required to denounce discrimination in all of its manifestations and to make sure that there is a legal system that upholds the idea of equality and offers protection from prejudice. The pact covers topics like human trafficking, property ownership, health care, and employment.
The United States committed publicly to ratifying the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women by the year 2000 at the United Nations Conference on Women in 1995, but the Senate has yet to take a vote on the treaty’s ratification. A hearing on the CEDAW was held by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on June 13, 2002, and on July 30, 2002, a resolution of advice and consent to ratification of the treaty was approved by a vote of 12-7. The ABA provided the Committee with a statement in favour of U.S. ratification of CEDAW. Before the end of the 107th Congress, the treaty was not put to a vote by the entire Senate.
- Convention on the Rights of the Child –
The UN General Assembly approved the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in 1990. It is the first international convention to offer a comprehensive set of guidelines for promoting and safeguarding children’s rights. The treaty has 196 signatories as of 2016. Only the United States has not yet ratified the CRC out of all UN member states.
The Convention was signed by the United States in 1995, however it has never been put up for discussion by the Senate. The Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography and the Optional Protocol, which were both backed by the American Bar Association, were ratified by the United States in 2002.
- Universal Declaration of Human Rights –
International human rights law is often regarded as having its roots in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The 1948-adopted UDHR served as the model for numerous international human rights treaties that are now enforceable by law. It continues to serve as a source of inspiration for all of us, whether we are addressing injustices, resolving disputes, living in oppressed countries, or working to ensure that everyone can enjoy their human rights. It stands for the widespread understanding that each and every person is born free and endowed with the same dignity and rights, that these rights and freedoms are inalienable and applicable to all people equally. Regardless of our status, nationality, location of residence, gender, ethnic or national origin, colour, religion, or language.
- Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) of Nuclear Weapons –
The NPT is a historic international treaty whose goals are to advance nuclear disarmament and general and complete disarmament, prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, and promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. The Treaty serves as the only legally binding commitment in a multilateral agreement to the nuclear-weapon States’ disarmament objective.
The Treaty came into force in 1970 after being made available for signature in 1968. The Treaty was perpetually extended on May 11, 1995. There are five nuclear-armed States (US, UK, France, Russia and China) are included in the overall number of States that have ratified the Treaty. The NPT has been ratified by more nations than any other arms control and disarmament agreement, which is evidence of the Treaty’s importance. The Treaty is recognized as the cornerstone of the international regime for nuclear non-proliferation and as a crucial stepping stone toward nuclear disarmament. The Treaty established a safeguards mechanism under the control of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to further the objective of non-proliferation and as a confidence-building measure between States parties.
- Treaty of Brussels –
Despite the commitments made with the signing of the Paris Agreements in 1954 and the North Atlantic Treaty in 1949, it was the Brussels Treaty and the decisions made by political and military leaders in the middle of 1948 that marked a significant shift in British defense strategy.
This “continental commitment,” which was firmly established in 1948, serves as the foundation for the current discussion regarding the direction of British defense policy. After the signing of the Brussels Treaty, it was uncertain if the United States would firmly commit to ensuring West European security. In fact, American hesitancy predominated for a while. However, from an American perspective, the pact did fulfill one of the key requirements for such an Atlantic system: it made it clear that the West European states were ready to organize themselves and try to stand on their own, even before the promise of American assistance was forthcoming. Therefore, it is difficult to think that NATO would have come to be without the Brussels Pact.
- Outer Space Treaty, 1967
The Legal Subcommittee examined the Outer Space Treaty in 1966, and the General Assembly approved it the same year (resolution 2222 (XXI)). The Declaration of Legal Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, which had been adopted by the General Assembly in its resolution 1962 (XVIII) in 1963, served as the foundation for the majority of the Treaty, but some new clauses were included. The three depository Governments (the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America) opened the Treaty for signature in January 1967, and it became effective in October 1967.
The Outer Space Treaty offers the fundamental guidelines for international space law, which include the following tenets:
- The use of space and its exploration must be done in the interests of all nations and in the best interests of all humankind.
- All States shall have unrestricted access to and usage of space.
- States are forbidden from deploying nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction in orbit, on celestial bodies, or stationing them in outer space in any other way; outer space is not subject to national appropriation through claims of sovereignty, by usage or occupation, or through any other means.
The aforementioned article gives a brief yet insightful commentary on the existing international conventions and treaties that have been recognized by world powers and that have a huge impact over the entire geo-political and financial platform. There’s a mixture of general as well as specific set of rights granted by the conventions in the form of legislations particularly made for women and children. The ambit of this article tries to encompass every aspect alongside dealing with the loopholes of the same and signifies the scope of improvement as well. It also emphasises on the minute yet huge difference between a treaty and a convention and highlights the global scenario at the time of their adoption and commencement. It covers a wide arena starting from defence to nuclear disarmament along with human rights. Thus, the article gives a holistic overview of the aforementioned domain.
 Treaty (History &Society), Britannica, available at https://nludelhi.ac.in/UploadedImages/150093bc-dde8-4e2f-abf6-bd63c71ec0f6.pdf, last seen on 26/08/2023
 Glossary of technical terms related to the treaty bodies, United Nations Human Rights (Office of the High Commissioner), available at https://www.ohchr.org/en/treaty-bodies/glossary-technical-terms-related-treaty-bodies, last seen on 26/08/2023
 A. Altman, Tracing the Earliest Recorded Concepts of International Law: The Ancient Near East (2500–330 BCE), 134 Journal of the American Oriental Society 550 (2014)
 Randall Lesaffer Treaties in the history of international law, pg. 52 (Michael J. Bowman, Dino Kritsiotis, 2018)
 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs, available at https://disarmament.unoda.org/wmd/nuclear/npt/#:~:text=The%20NPT%20is%20a%20landmark,and%20general%20and%20complete%20disarmament, last seen on 26/08/2023
 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), Nuclear Threat Initiative, available at https://www.nti.org/education-center/treaties-and-regimes/treaty-on-the-non-proliferation-of-nuclear-weapons/, last seen on 26/08/2023
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 John Baylis, Britain, the Brussels Pact and the continental commitment, 60(4) International Affairs (Royal Institute of International Affairs 1944-), 615,615 (1984)
 Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies, United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs, available at https://www.unoosa.org/oosa/en/ourwork/spacelaw/treaties/introouterspacetreaty.html, last seen on 26/08/2023
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